Encyclopedia Astronautica
HL-10



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HL-10 Lifting Body
HL-10 Lifting Body with B-52 and Test Pilot Dana
Credit: NASA
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HL-10
Three view of the HL-10, the favoured lifting body configuration of NASA's Langley. This configuration was found to be the best of the lifting bodies.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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HL-10 Lifting Body
Credit: NASA
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Lifting Bodies
Manned Lifting Bodies
Credit: NASA
American manned spaceplane. 37 launches, 1966.12.22 to 1970.07.17 . The HL-10 was the favored lifting body configuration of NASA Langley in the 1960's. It reached Mach 1.86 and 27,700 m during its flight tests.

This configuration was found to be the best of the lifting bodies, and it was used in several of the orbiter proposals in NASA's Phase A and Phase B shuttle design studies. It was also very similar to the winning X-33 configuration proposed by the Lockheed. Purportedly an unmanned test vehicle of this design was tested at orbital speeds by the US Air Force in a black Lockheed Skunk Work's project, possibly on two Titan 3B / Agena D launches in 1972.

The HL-10 was one of five lifting body designs flown at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., from July 1966 to November 1975 to study and validate the concept of safely maneuvering and landing a low lift-over-drag vehicle designed for reentry from space. It was now on permanent public display near the main entrance of Dryden.

The other designs were the M2-F2, M2-F3 (rebuilt M2-F2 following a landing accident), X-24A and X-24B (rebuilt X-24A with a different aerodynamic shape).

Wingless lifting bodies attained aerodynamic stability and lift from the shape of the vehicle. Lift resulted from more air pressure on the bottom of the body than on the top. They used energy and aerodynamic lift for in-flight maneuvering and a powerless, glider-like landing.

Background

The original idea of lifting bodies was conceived in 1957 by Dr. Alfred J. Eggers Jr., then the assistant director for Research and Development Analysis and Planning at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

The lifting body concept was originally tested at Dryden with a plywood prototype designated the M2-F1 and built in late 1962. It featured a plywood shell built by Gus Briegleb, a sailplane builder from Mirage Dry Lake, Calif., placed over a tubular frame built at Dryden. The M2-F1 was towed aloft, first behind an auto and then a C-47 more than 100 times, to validate basic lifting body stability and control characteristics. This led to establishment of the formal program which resulted in the HL-10 and its sister vehicles.

Northrop Corporation built the HL-10. The contract for construction of the HL-10 and the M2-F2, first of the fleet of lifting bodies flown at Dryden and also built by Northrop, was $1.8 million. "HL" stands for horizontal landing, and "10" refers to the tenth design studied by engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

The HL-10 was delivered to NASA in January 1966. During the next 10 months it was instrumented for the research program and prepared for flight. The HL-10 and the M2-F2 were tested in wind tunnels at Ames Research Center before research flights began.

First flight of the HL-10 was on Dec. 22, 1966, with research pilot Bruce Peterson in the cockpit. Although an XLR-11 rocket engine was installed in the vehicle, the first 11 drop flights from the B-52 launch aircraft were powerless glide flights to assess handling qualities, stability, and control.

The HL-10 was flown 37 times during the lifting body research program and logged the highest altitude and fastest speed in the program. On Feb. 18, 1970, Air Force test pilot Peter Hoag piloted the HL-10 to Mach 1.86 (1,228 mph). Nine days later, NASA pilot Bill Dana flew the vehicle to 90,030 feet, which became the highest altitude reached in the program.

Typical Flight Profile

During a typical lifting body flight, the B-52 -- with the research vehicle attached to the pylon mount on the right wing between the fuselage and inboard engine pod -- flew to a height of about 45,000 feet and a launch speed of about 450 mph.

Moments after being dropped, the XLR-11 rocket engine (same type engine used in the Bell X-l) was ignited by the pilot. Speed and altitude increased until the engine was shut down by choice or fuel exhaustion, depending upon the individual mission profile. The lifting bodies normally carried enough fuel for about 100 seconds of powered flight and routinely reached altitudes of 50,000 to 80,000 feet and speeds above Mach 1.

Following engine shutdown, the pilot maneuvered the vehicle through a simulated return-from-space corridor into a pre-planned approach for a landing on one of the lakebed runways on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards. A circular approach was used to lose altitude during the landing phase. On the final approach leg, the pilot increased his rate of descent to build up energy. At about 100 feet altitude, a "flare out" maneuver dropped air speed to about 200 mph for the landing.

The HL-10 helped develop energy management and landing techniques used presently with the space shuttle orbiters.

Specifications

Dimensions: Length, 22 ft. 2 in.; Width, 15 ft. 7 in.; Height, 11 ft. 5 in.; Min. Weight, 5,265 lbs.; Max. Weight, 9,000 lbs (with water ballast tanks full).

Controls: Elevons between vertical and center fins for pitch and roll control. Split rudder on center fin for yaw and speed control. All surfaces used in three-axis stabilizer-augmenter system.

Power: One XLR-11 four-chamber rocket engine fueled by ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen, producing maximum of 6,000 lbs thrust; built by Chemical Reaction Motors, Inc.

Aux. Power: Silver zinc batteries provided electrical power for control system, flight instruments, radios, cockpit heat, and stability augmentation system. To assist in pre-landing flare, four throttleable hydrogen peroxide rockets provided up to 400 lbs of thrust.

Landing Gear: Main gear was modified T-38 system retracted manually, and lowered by nitrogen pressure. Nose gear was modified T-39 nose gear, retracted manually and lowered with nitrogen pressure.

Pilot Ejection System: Modified F-106 system.

Characteristics

Spacecraft delta v: 850 m/s (2,780 ft/sec).

Gross mass: 4,080 kg (8,990 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 2,780 kg (6,120 lb).
Height: 6.77 m (22.21 ft).
Span: 4.60 m (15.00 ft).
Thrust: 26.40 kN (5,935 lbf).
First Launch: 1966.12.22.
Last Launch: 1970.07.17.
Number: 37 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • XLR11 Reaction Motors, Thiokol Lox/Alcohol rocket engine. Out of Production. Launch thrust 26.67 kN. Rocket engine developed for X-1 in 1940s to break the sound barrier and used twenty years later to power experimental lifting bodies. Four combustion chambers. More...

See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Northrop American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Northrop, USA. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Lox/Alcohol Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. Alcohol (C2H5OH) was the fuel used for the German V-2 rocket, and the first derivative rocket engines in the United States, Soviet Union, and China used it as well. Better performance was achieved by increasing the alcohol concentration in the post-war engines. But after better-performance rocket-grade kerosene was developed by Rocketdyne in the REAP program of 1953, use of alcohol was abandoned. More...

Bibliography
  • Gatland, Kenneth, Manned Spacecraft, Macmillan, New York, 1968.
  • Miller, Jay,, The X-Planes, Aerofax, Arlington, Texas, 1988.
  • Miller, Ron, The Dream Machines, Krieger, Malabar, Florida, 1993.
  • Zhelyez x-plane book,
  • Houchin II, Roy and Smith, Terry, "X-20 (7 articles)", Quest, 1994, Volume 3, Issue 4, page 4.
  • Peebles, Curtis, "The Origins of the US Space Shuttle - 1", Spaceflight, 1979, Volume 21, page 435.
  • NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Web Site, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Grimwood, James M., Project Mercury: A Chronology, NASA Special Publication-4001.
  • NASA Report, NASA Factsheet FS-010-DFRC HL-10, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Full scale wind tunnel investigation of the HL-10 manned lifting body flight vehicle, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Developing and Flight Testing the HL-10 Lifting Body: A Precursor to the Space Shuttle, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Developing and flight testing the HL-10 lifting body: A precursor to the Space Shuttle, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Landing characteristics of a dynamic model of the HL-10 manned lifting entry vehicle, Web Address when accessed: here.

HL-10 Chronology


1957 July - August - .
  • Semiballistic design for a manned reentry spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: X-24A; HL-10. Summary: Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., of the NACA Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, worked out a semiballistic design for a manned reentry spacecraft..

1962 September - .
  • M2-F1 lifting body first flight. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: M2-F2; HL-10; X-24A. The lifting body concept was first tested at Dryden with a plywood prototype designated the M2-F1 built in late 1962. It featured a plywood shell built by Gus Briegleb, a sailplane builder from Mirage Dry Lake, Calif., placed over a tubular frame built at Dryden. The M2-F1 was towed aloft, first behind an auto and then a C-47 more than 100 times, to validate basic lifting body stability and control characteristics. This led to establishment of the formal program which resulted in the HL-10, M2-F2, M2-F3, X-24A, and X-24B lifting bodies.

1966 January - .
  • HL-10 delivered to NASA - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: During the next 10 months it was instrumented for the research program and prepared for flight. The HL-10 and the M2-F2 were tested in wind tunnels at Ames Research Center before research flights began..

1966 December 22 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 1 - . Crew: Peterson, Bruce. Payload: HL-10 flight 1. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Peterson, Bruce. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: First flight HL-10. Maximum Speed - 735 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 187 sec..

1968 March 15 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 2 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 2. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 684 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 243 sec..

1968 April 3 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 3 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 3. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 732 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 242 sec..

1968 April 25 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 4 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 4. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 739 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 258 sec..

1968 May 3 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 5 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 5. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 732 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 245 sec..

1968 May 16 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 6 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 6. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 719 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 265 sec..

1968 May 28 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 7 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 7. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 698 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 245 sec..

1968 June 11 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 8 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 8. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 697 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 246 sec..

1968 June 21 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 9 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 9. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 681 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 271 sec..

1968 September 24 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 10 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 10. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: XLR-11 engine installed. Maximum Speed - 722 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 245 sec..

1968 October 3 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 11 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 11. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 758 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 243 sec..

1968 October 23 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 12 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 12. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: First powered flight. Premature shutdown. Maximum Speed - 722 kph. Maximum Altitude - 12100 m. Flight Time - 189 sec..

1968 November 13 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 13 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 13. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 2 chambers, 186-sec powered flight. Maximum Speed - 843 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13000 m. Flight Time - 385 sec..

1968 December 9 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 14 - . Crew: Gentry. Payload: HL-10 flight 14. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gentry. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 2 chambers. Maximum Speed - 872 kph. Maximum Altitude - 14450 m. Flight Time - 394 sec..

1969 April 17 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 15 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 15. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 3 chambers. Maximum Speed - 973 kph. Maximum Altitude - 16070 m. Flight Time - 400 sec..

1969 April 25 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 16 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 16. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Glide. Maximum Speed - 743 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13720 m. Flight Time - 252 sec..

1969 May 9 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 17 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 17. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 3 chambers, first supersonic. Maximum Speed - 1197 kph. Maximum Altitude - 16250 m. Flight Time - 410 sec..

1969 May 20 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 18 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 18. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 959 kph. Maximum Altitude - 14970 m. Flight Time - 414 sec..

1969 May 28 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 19 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 19. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 2 chambers. Maximum Speed - 1311 kph. Maximum Altitude - 18960 m. Flight Time - 398 sec..

1969 June 6 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 20 - . Crew: Hoag. Payload: HL-10 flight 20. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Hoag. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Glide. Maximum Speed - 1483 kph. Maximum Altitude - 19540 m. Flight Time - 231 sec..

1969 June 19 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 21 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 21. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 2 chambers. Maximum Speed - 1483 kph. Maximum Altitude - 19540 m. Flight Time - 378 sec..

1969 June 23 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 22 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 22. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 2 chambers. Maximum Speed - 1350 kph. Maximum Altitude - 19450 m. Flight Time - 373 sec..

1969 August 6 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 23 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 23. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: First 4-chambered flight. Maximum Speed - 1641 kph. Maximum Altitude - 23190 m. Flight Time - 372 sec..

1969 September 3 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 24 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 24. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 4 chambers. Maximum Speed - 1541 kph. Maximum Altitude - 23760 m. Flight Time - 414 sec..

1969 September 18 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 25 - . Crew: Manke. Payload: HL-10 flight 25. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Manke. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 4 chambers. Maximum Speed - 1340 kph. Maximum Altitude - 24140 m. Flight Time - 426 sec..

1969 September 30 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 26 - . Crew: Hoag. Payload: HL-10 flight 26. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Hoag. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: 2 chambers. Maximum Speed - 780 kph. Maximum Altitude - 16380 m. Flight Time - 436 sec..

1969 October 27 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 27 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 27. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 1675 kph. Maximum Altitude - 18470 m. Flight Time - 417 sec..

1969 November 3 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 28 - . Crew: Hoag. Payload: HL-10 flight 28. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Hoag. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 1482kph. Maximum Altitude - 19540 m. Flight Time - 439 sec..

1969 November 17 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 29 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 29. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 1693 kph. Maximum Altitude - 19690 m. Flight Time - 408 sec..

1969 November 21 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 30 - . Crew: Hoag. Payload: HL-10 flight 30. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Hoag. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 1532 kph. Maximum Altitude - 24160 m. Flight Time - 378 sec..

1969 December 12 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 31 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 31. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 1401 kph. Maximum Altitude - 24370 m. Flight Time - 428 sec..

1970 January 19 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 32 - . Crew: Hoag. Payload: HL-10 flight 32. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Hoag. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 1398 kph. Maximum Altitude - 26410 m. Flight Time - 410 sec..

1970 January 26 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 33 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 33. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 1443 kph. Maximum Altitude - 26730 m. Flight Time - 411 sec..

1970 February 18 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 34 - . Crew: Hoag. Payload: HL-10 flight 34. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Hoag. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum speed. Maximum Speed - 1976 kph. Maximum Altitude - 20520 m. Flight Time - 380 sec..

1970 February 27 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 35 - . Crew: Dana. Payload: HL-10 flight 35. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Dana. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum altitude. Maximum Speed - 1400 kph. Maximum Altitude - 27524 m. Flight Time - 416 sec..

1970 June 11 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 36 - . Crew: Hoag. Payload: HL-10 flight 36. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Hoag. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Glide landing study. Maximum Speed - 809 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13716 m. Flight Time - 202 sec..

1970 July 17 - .
  • HL-10 Flight 37 - . Crew: Hoag. Payload: HL-10 flight 37. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Hoag. Program: NASA Lifting Body. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: HL-10. Summary: Maximum Speed - 803 kph. Maximum Altitude - 13716 m. Flight Time - 252 sec..

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